Canada Marks 20 Years' Membership in Organization of American States

(No. 5 - January 8, 2010 - 3:45 p.m. EST) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), today marked the 20th anniversary of Canada's membership in the Organization of American States (OAS).

"As we celebrate Canada's 20 years of membership in the Organization of American States, our commitment to the organization and its principles and values remains steadfast and purposeful," said Minister Cannon. "Our membership gives us the ongoing opportunity to advance our priorities for the Americas in a forum that seeks to address regional challenges by fostering dialogue among its member countries."

Canada joined the OAS as a permanent observer in 1972 and became a full member in 1990. Canada strongly supports and actively participates in the work of the various OAS bodies.

Since becoming a full member 20 years ago, Canada has made important contributions to the OAS's collective achievements. Highlights include the establishment of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which makes democracy an explicit condition of OAS membership, and the Declaration on Security in the Americas, which creates a multi-dimensional security framework for the region.

"The Organization of American States is the key hemispheric forum promoting democracy, human rights and good governance, public security, prosperity and sustainable development," said Minister of State Kent. "These are the very values Canada seeks to promote in the Americas."

Canada is the second-largest contributor to the OAS, providing 13.7 percent of the Organization's regular budget in 2010. Additional Canadian voluntary contributions are allocated to support specific projects, including electoral observation missions, crisis prevention and resolution, judicial reform, mine action programs, counter-narcotics activities and the advancement of gender equality. Canada is also the single largest contributor to OAS counterterrorism capacity building.

The OAS is the world's oldest regional organization. It originated in 1890 as the International Union of American Republics. In 1910, the organization became the Pan American Union. Nearly forty years later, in April 1948, 21 countries joined together to establish the Organization of American States.

A series of events throughout the year, in Canada and at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C., will commemorate the 20th anniversary of Canada's OAS membership.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Natalie Sarafian
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Eleanor Johnston
Senior Special Assistant (Communications)
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada